The WKU Hilltopper Basketball team used 20 steals and six players in double figures to notch a convincing 99-69 victory over the Costa Rica National Team in Wednesday’s second game in the country.
The Hilltoppers led 47-31 at halftime and ultimately pushed their advantage to as large as 93-62 in the waning minutes. WKU tallied 21 assists and shot 52.7 percent from the field at BN Arena.
“My main observation was we got off to a big early lead,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “At that point, we weren’t very good defensively anyway, but I really thought we got loose after that. Way too many gambles and guys trying to make plays they shouldn’t make.
“Right now, it’s hard to evaluate some things because we’ve got some makeshift lineups in there, but we have multiple guys who can go make plays. We just have to get where we guard better, and we will.”
For the second straight night, redshirt junior guard Lamonte Bearden led the Hilltoppers in scoring with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Redshirt junior guard Jordan Brangers scored 17 points – including four 3-pointers – and freshman guards Marek Nelson and Jake Ohmer each tallied 12 points.
Ohmer scored all of his points on four made 3s.
“It was good to get everybody involved and in the flow,” Ohmer said. “I came out slow at first, but I just had to see one go in.”
After going scoreless in the first game of the trip, Nelson made 5-of-6 shots from the field, grabbed four rebounds and took a charge.
One of his made baskets was a thundering dunk over top of a Costa Rican player while getting fouled.
“It was good,” Nelson said. “A couple of plays before, there was a drive I had, and I thought I should’ve dunked that one as well. So when I caught that one, I was going to go right at the rim.”
Freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth added 11 points, and junior guard/forward Jared Savage had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Junior forward Justin Johnson chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds, and graduate senior guard Darius Thompson filled up the stat sheet with seven points, nine assists and seven rebounds against just one turnover.
WKU finishes its competition on the trip with a rematch against Laurentian University at 5 p.m. CT Thursday. The Hilltoppers beat their Canadian foe 104-98 on Tuesday night.
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